Hal

Earl Okin

The Only Opening Act Ever to be Featured On a Full Tour with Paul McCartney & Wings

earl okin

It all started when Earl Okin wrote an open letter to the SongTalk mailing list. It was titled, “Tribute to Linda McCartney”.  It was a heartfelt tribute  to Linda, who had recently died of cancer.

Later, when I put out a request for essay’s for my new website,  Earl must have seen it, because he submitted the letter to and gave me permission to reprint it in the Tales of the Road Warriors section of my fledgling website, Lil Hank’s Guide for Songwriters, which was one of a handful of early online resources for songwriters and musicians in the mid 1990’s.

So, in January of 2019, when I first started creating the Tales of the Road Warriors podcast, which gets its name from that section of Li’l Hank’s Guide, I went in the WABAC machine to reread some of the essays – and came across Earl’s Tribute to Linda. This got me to thinking… hmmm, why don’t see if he’s still around and invite him to be a guest on my podcast. So, I searched Google and Facebook for Earl Okin and found out that not only is he still around, he’s just turned 72, fit as a fiddle, still doing concerts AND, he even has his own podcast called  Earl Okin’s Amazing Gramophone Show (http://earlokin.blogspot.com/)

On each episode, he introduces six selections culled from various operas digitized from his collection of rare cylinders and acetate recordings. The shows end with an Earl Okin original.

My Room - Earl Okin

UPCOMING SHOWS

Sunday, March 31
The Half Moon Putney
93 Lower Richmond Road
SW15 1EU London, United Kingdom


Below are some links to some of the websites, audio and video mentioned  in this episode.

Earl Okin Website

Earl’s Podcast (The Earl Okin Amazing Gramophone Show)

A Tribute To Linda McCartney by Earl Okin


Music In This Episode

Intro (most epsiodes): Playa del Spain by Joe Walla
Joe Walla music availble on Broadjam

Outro: LA To London Music and Lyrics by Earl Okin

Posted by Hal in comedy, earl okin, entertainers, jazz, opera, podcast, Road Warriors, singer songwriter, 0 comments

Peter Tork Tribute

Peter Tork Tribute Show Notes 

Peter Tork

February 13, 1942 – February 21, 2019

Peter Tork

 Over time, you may notice I often refer to the Great American Food & Beverage Company, Great American or GA for short. The GA was a very popular restaurant in the 70’s through early 80’s known for it’s singing waiters, fabulous planked feasts filled with gigantic beef ribs and chicken, expedited with grapes, and fresh fruit, and decadent desserts served with humongous scoops of ice cream made to look like boobs, with bananas dripping with hot fudge resting in the melting cleavage. It was called the ice cream orgy. Some well known celebrities worked there for a spell including Katie Sagal, Ricki Lee Jones, Michael Winslow, 80’s rockers Jamie Sherriff and Marc Tanner, and… for a spell…. Peter Tork best known as one of the Monkees. Peter passed away on Friday, February 21st at the age of 77. Today, we remember him with great fondness as a few mutual friends share their stories in a Tribute to Peter Tork on Tales if the Road Warriors!   

If you enter the name Peter Tork in Google’s search engine, you will get about 14 million results in about 36 seconds. To say he was a pretty popular fellow would be quite accurate.

How, this is not a recap of Peter Tork’s career with the Monkees. Or a history of Peter’s life. You can find a lot of great articles, interviews and music videos of his all over the internet. But Peter was the sum of many parts before, during and after his association with the iconic band that propelled him to stardom. This is my little piece of the Peter Tork story, and I feel honored and fortunate that I entered his orbit, however briefly. I also encountered several people  within that orbit that have agreed to share their stories of working with or just hanging with Peter. A few of the words that come up a lot when talking with the people that ever met him…  kind, humble and gracious. I never heard anyone utter an unkind word about him.

Before Peter became a member of the Monkees, he was passing the hat in coffee houses in New York’s Greenwich Village.

The first person to share his story is Tedd Baron, describing those early days. At the time, Tedd was i a rock band called the Hi-5. Here’s a link to the video he mentioned when the group was on “I’ve got a Secret” with Steve Allen. This the Hi-5 performing their original song Did You Have to Rub It In

Next, I talked about my own first encounter with Peter Tork.  Peter was about 24 when he joined the Monkees in 1965 and the oldest member of the group. He was 37 when I worked with him briefly, at the Great American F&B Co.

I was clocking in on what was his first night at the GA, and I noticed the name Peter Thorkleson on the time card above mine. My first thought was, “No way”. I didn’t even know that was his real name. However, when I went into the dining room to set up for the dinner rush, there he was. Big as life. Peter Tork. He introduced himself and during the course of the night, I had a hard time focusing, just knowing he was in the place bussing tables. I hadn’t been a waiter that long, having bussed tables for almost a year before getting a waiter position. And here I was waiting tables while Peter Tork was clearing them off for me and bringing water and condiments to the customers. It just felt so wrong. I felt almost embarrassed for the guy.

A few days later, I was walking home from the store and damn! There’s Peter Tork again at the end of my block. I said, Peter Tork! Are you stalking me?  Turns out his daycare was at the end of my street and he was dropping his kids off. I took the opportunity to ask him how he ended up at the GA. So he told me…

Two years prior to when I met him, he had moved to Japan with his family. He had bought out his contract with Screen Gems and the high cost of living in Japan helped him burn through the remainder of his savings. Now he was back in the States, trying to get back on his feet financially and emotionally. And as I could see, he also had a family to support.  I imagine the stint he put in at the Great American was a dark time for him. When he first started working there, he refused to play any songs from the Monkee’s catalogue. But, he wouldn’t hesitate to jump in with another GA waiter doing cover tunes, or play some of his originals on the banjo in between bussing tables. And he did a mean Chuck Berry duck walk while playing the shit out of his banjo. Yeah, Tork, was a great entertainer.

Johnny Roquemore, a coworker at the GA, told me of his reaction upon seeing this guy who looked like one of the Monkees…

Next – Once Peter Tork began performing Monkees songs at  the Great American, the customers were ecstatic. He worked out several numbers with Danny Carey, one of my favorite cohorts. Danny knew the lyrics and chords to most of the Monkees entire catalogue. He and Peter rocked the house with several Monkees hits.  Danny recounted his time at the GA working and performing with Peter.

My old friend and partner in crime, DJ Barker (the one Peter yelled at), is also the guy responsible for talking me into moving to California and joining him as a singing waiter. And he shared a similar memory.

  In recent years, Peter Tork toured the US in several incarnations.

He did a couple reunion tours with the Monkees; he performed as a solo artist in rooms large and small across the U.S; he also performed with his band Shoe Suede Blues; and in a duo with James Lee Stanley called The Two Man Band.

These last two people were among the last to share the stage with him. First, here’s Laura Cheadle, who I was able to speak with briefly, but the audio is a little choppy because she was in her car driving to an appointment.

Finally, we come to Peter’s life long friend and partner in musical mirth and song, James Lee Stanley.  I always like to save the best for last, and to be honest, I almost didn’t want to bother James Lee because I didn’t know if it was a good time to ask him to talk about Peter. I always hate when I see tv reporters shove a microphone in someone’s face right  after they lost a loved one or their home is burned to the ground behind them, but it turned out okay. James was happy to talk to me about his friendship and musical partner, Peter Tork. Only problem was, he was getting through a bad bug and his throat was a bit raw, so I told him we’d keep it short. Still, James Lee shared quite a bit with me:


More Peter Tork Online Videos, Music and Interviews

Peter Tork and James Lee Stanley on Beachwood Records

Two Man Band at the Tin Angel (pt 2)


Music from the Show

Intro (most epsiodes): Playa del Spain by Joe Walla
Joe Walla music availble on Broadjam

Outro (most epsodes): I’m Goin’ For a Drive by Hal Cohen
Produced by Barry Keys for Xenon Records
Piano: Barry Keys
Lead Guitar: Aaron Wolfson

Posted by Hal in Monkees, Peter Tork, Peter Tork Tribute, 2 comments

THANK YOU from Hal

Hi this Hal Aaron Cohen and I want to welcome you to Tales of the Road Warriors.

Today’s episode is going to be relatively short because I was hoping to be dropping a Tribute to Peter Tork today. However, I got a little behind due to the time it took me to get a few people I wanted to participate in remembering Peter, and I didn’t want to rush to merely get out a couple of sound bytes about someone who deserves more than that.

So, for that reason, this week, you get two episodes. This first one is just to say thank you.

I’d like to humbly thank everyone  who has been listening to my Tales of the Road Warriors podcast, and those who have been apologetically telling me they haven’t checked it out yet, but they will. To you I say – Hey! NO WORRIES. I’m not going anywhere. I’m happy to be the one introducing you to the world of podcasts and  more specifically, to my world of musical road warriors. Those brave souls who brave the elements, with  a carload of musical instruments, PA systems, mics and cords and cable and pedals, doggedly dragging them inland out of bars, restaurants, churches, theaters, concert halls and all kinds of other venues inn attempt to bring joy into the lives of friends, family and more often, roomfuls or stadiums full – of complete strangers.

And when the show is over, unless you’re in a famous rock band, you’re driving home after midnight, trying to keep your eyes open so you can live to play again another day. And some of you. like me, who finally gets home after playing four sets, and driving 2 hours each way only to have to walk the dog before you  can take your shoes off!

So, yes! Thanks for the support from my musicians friends. Some of who have bought and sold so many guitars on Craigslist, your spouse is planning to kill you in your sleep if you bring home one more.

And thank you to those who play an open mic one pr more nights a week just to keep that flame alive within.

And thank you to those listeners that just appreciate music. You come to our gigs, you’re truly interest ed in us and our well being and buy our CD’s or download our songs or watch our videos on Youtube.

THANK YOU (Transcript)

This Tales of the Road Warriors podcast is for all of you. My goal is to release an episode every Thursday, by hook or by crook and introduce you to some amazing people. And hopefully, bring some humor along with it!

All right so -THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I hope to have the Peter Tork Tribute out tomorrow. I was hoping to have done today, but  Well you know… Anticipation. It has to be worth your while to wait a little longer for it. I will present a side of Peter rarely seen by the general public. Not Peter Tork, the Monkees, but the Before and After the Monkees Peter.

So I have to get back to editing that show. But first… I’m going for a drive.


Music from the Show

Intro (most epsiodes): Playa del Spain by Joe Walla
Joe Walla music availble on Broadjam

Outro (most epsodes): I’m Goin’ For a Drive by Hal Cohen
Produced by Barry Keys for Xenon Records
Piano: Barry Keys
Lead Guitar: Aaron Wolfson

Posted by Hal, 0 comments

Rick Denzien

Ricky Gerry Rides Again!

Live from bäh-fo Studio in Ambler, PA. a great little burb outside of Philly home to great music food and artsy little boutiques and street fairs and festivals.

Today, Rick Denzien talks to me about his parents, who were amateur race car drivers. That’s right, he’s the son of a real hard drinkin’ and smokin’ Nascar Mama.

Formula E events regular formula racing, all electric  cars that go 200 miles an hour. I asked about the lack of that smell of fuel and cars exploding.

Then we talked a little about his younger days as a guitar slinger, but  the green activist Rick  shortly kicked back in and took a short detour to speak briefly about littering. To be honest, I admire Rick’s commitment to keeping the planet free of poisons and garbage and burning fossil fuels, but I have to admit, I haven’t been one of the Earths greatest stewards myself. I do clean up after my dog. Well on one hand I do that, but on the other hand, I use aplastic bag. Sorry, Rick!

Then we got into the world of phony phone calls, because, well, let’s face it, what else did we do with our very first tape recorder in those days? Just a heads-up. You better beware, because I told him about the celebrity sound boards on Ebaum’s World, so I may have awakened the prankster within. Sorry folks. I didn’t know.

We then talk some more about recording and winning contests, reckless driving and a crazy invention that allowed you to safely jump out the window of a skyscraper. And where are our jet packs? Or a firehose that we could ride like in the show “Jackass”. Or Marty McFlys’s air board from “Back to the Future”.

Once again, we talk about recycling and repurposing bags and eating utensils and people pissing in streams, before getting to some stories about pissing off club owners and promoters across Europe before ultimately making friends with the guy.

An old girlfriend tells Rick she’s pregnant just before he’s about to go on stage! And finally, he tells the story about how the lens falls out of his glasses but one of the backup vocalists saves the day when she repairs the glasses by using her fingernail as a screwdriver. Which leads us to come ups with a new invention!

We end up talking about the Lyra Project, the original duo of Rick Denzien and his Wife, Debra Lee, with a little shout out to American Idol runner-up, Justin Guardini. Then I drop a few names for good measure and the whole thing  ends in a cliffhanger when Debra Lee still hasn’t come back from her  friend’s house. She finally showed up when I was heading out the door. We’ll catch up with the Lyra Project (the duo of Rick Denzien and Debra Lee) later this year.


More Rick Denzien

Rick Denzien Website
Bäh Fo Studio

Read about Rick’s latest green excursion across the country in a Tesla Model 3 EV


Music In This Episode

Intro (most epsiodes): Playa del Spain by Joe Walla
Joe Walla music availble on Broadjam

Outro (most epsodes): I’m Goin’ For a Drive by Hal Cohen
Produced by Barry Keys for Xenon Records
Piano: Barry Keys
Lead Guitar: Aaron Wolfson

Posted by Hal in electric cars, going green, house concerts, singer songwriters, thrive fest, 0 comments

Dan May

Not Just Another Cereal Aisle Aficionado

DAN MAY SHOW NOTES

Dan MayI spoke with Dan May in December, shortly after he had celebrated his 60th birthday!  In this fascinating episode, Dan talks about the early days in Sandusky Ohio, working summers with the family at the local amusement park. First garage band and girls.

Early influences, studying opera in Philadelphia and being a professional opera singer for 12 years (until vocal cord surgery put him on a different course). HE also talks about 3 years as dancer in a Russian touring company.

Meanwhile, in all this time as an opera singer, he was suppressing this wonderful songwriter hiding within.

What happened years later when Dan May allowed all those songs to emerge from the depths. His meeting Liz Miller at a TAXI Song Expo in L.A., which lead to the road to his becoming the beloved singer/songwriter he is known as through ought the world today!

As if that isn’t enough, Dan is an author, too! In 2016, his book  Adventures in Grocery Shopping: And other short stories from a cereal aisle aficionado, immediately made the “Philadelphia Inquirers Best Books of 2016” list.

Dan continues to perform live, in and around Philadelphia. And he often visits his home town of Sandusky, Ohio where he performs for his longtime friends and fans.

For more about Dan May or to purchase his music or books, visit

DanMayCD.com

Read my personal review of: Adventures in Grocery Shopping   by Dan May

Posted by Hal in dan may, entertainers, opera, podcast, Road Warriors, singer songwriter, theater, 0 comments

Liz Miller

Sleep Is For ******

Liz MillerToday, Liz and I talked about – driving, listening to podcasts vs. terrestrial radio, sleep, being a nurse and a songwriter, growing up in a musical family which allows Liz to drop a few serious names: Bobby Scott (writer of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and “A Taste of Honey”), Andy Williams, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, mom on the Steve Allen Show. Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee. Dad was a Mad Man and music lessons with the meanest teacher in New Jersey.

WHERE DO SONGS COME FROM?

Even though Liz is a serious songwriter, she has a few extremely funny songs in her catalogue. One of them, and one of my personal favorites is called Code Brown. So today, you’ll get the back story on this hilarious song and Youtube video. Turns out story of the song is as funny as or funnier than the song itself!

How does Liz manage to balance a nursing career and a songwriting career, yet still finds the time to be a wife, and mother of two kids?
Find out now on Tales of the Road Warriors!


LIX MILLER LINKS

The Xconditionals    The Alternative Pop/Rock duo of award winning songwriters Liz Miller and Margaret McClure. Produced by Andy Machin

Liz Miller on Reverbnation

Liz Miller on Broadjam

NSAI – Nashville Songwriters Association International (Philadelphia Chapter)

VIDEOS

Dick by The Xconditionals

Code Brown by LizzyMiller

Posted by Hal in entertainers, singer songwriters, xconditionals, 0 comments

Chad Watson

Literally Talking About “Stuff”!

chad watson and pam loe

Chad Watson with wife, Pam Loe

Chad Watson is a world class bass player, songwriter, side man and side kick ( just ask his lovely wife, Pam Loe)

Artists he’s tour and /or records with include John York, Ronnie Milsap  and Charlie Rich, Freebo and Bonnie Raitt, James Lee Stanley, Chris Hillman, The Burrito Brothers, Janis Ian, Ezra Mohawk and others.

Some of the things I talk about with Chad include: Playing at one of my favorite venues, Kulak’s Woodshed in North Hollywood with Freebo who used to be Bonnie Raitt’s bass player, and the Kulak’s Woodshed archives, which have been relocated to their Youtube channel,  where you can still see live performances from some of the performers mentioned in our conversation.

He also takes about his days on the road with Ronnie Milsap;  A brush with Kim Fowley, reminisces about some of the old clubs like the Palomino and a missed opportunity to sit in with Stuff, the original house band from Saturday night live when we swapped stories about missed opportunities. I mentioned the I chickened out when Marty Rifkin invited me to sit in with the house jam at the Palomino.

And then there’s great tale about country star Dale Watson – sorry, no spoilers.

Chad is currently working on a few recording projects and has just wrapped up a project with James Lee Stanley. He continues to perform live with his lovely wife, Pam Loe.


CHAD WATSON LINKS

Chad’s Website (Your best bet in viewing it is with the Firefox browser. It requires the Flash plugin)
http://www.chadwatson.us

Kulak’s Woodshed Archives
https://www.youtube.com/user/paulkulak1/featured

James Lee Stanley – Freelance Hyman Being
https://jamesleestanley.com/

CHAD’S UPCOMING SHOWS
March 5th, 2019 Cowboy Palace in Chatsworth, CA
March 13, 2019 at the Maui Sugar Mill Saloon in Reseda, CA


Music from the Show

Intro (most epsiodes): Playa del Spain by Joe Walla
Joe Walla music availble on Broadjam

Outro (most epsodes): I’m Goin’ For a Drive by Hal Cohen
Produced by Barry Keys for Xenon Records
Piano: Barry Keys
Lead Guitar: Aaron Wolfson

Posted by Hal in bass player, entertainers, Road Warriors, singer songwriter, singer songwriters, 11 comments

Gary Michael Mazzola

The Tehachapi Music Man

gary michael mazzolaFrom, the bio on his website…
“Gary Michael Mazzola is a talented Tehachapi songwriter with an exceptional voice and a gift for writing lyrical, approachable songs about life and love. 

He’s has played with many talented musicians during his long musical journey and honed his craft in numerous band incarnations since his father gave Gary his first real guitar when he was just 13 years old.

Mazzola has been writing songs all his life and for the past few years since developing Parkinson’s disease, he’s devoted all his time to the art form. “The way I see it as long as I can still control the tremors and play I have a responsibility to myself to do what I love.  I get up each morning, get ready for the day, go into my studio, and start writing. That’s my life and I love it.”

One of the topics I talked about with Gary is Parkinson’s Disease. Gary has had this debilitating disease for years. It attacks a person’s motor skills, so they are not able to move as fast as they can think. It can be extremely frustrating. One of more unpredictable results of the effects Parkinson’s has had on Gary was unintended, unpredictable yet not all bad  – he has become proficient at playing slide guitar because it has become too difficult for him to form chords on the neck of the guitar. These days, he is considered an accomplished bottleneck slide guitar player. One door closes and another opens.

Gary is now directing plays as well, and he went into some detail about his current project,  Young Frankenstein, the Musical. It seems Mel Brooks wrote a musical  stage version of his famous movie, complete with songs and choreography and Mazzola is directing a theatrical  group in Tehachapi where it is being performed by the local talent.

BTW – One of the names that came up during the conversation is DJ. DJ is DJ Barker, is a singer songwriter and mutual friend. As a matter of fact, He’s my oldest friend from Philadelphia, was  instrumental in my moving to California and he helped get me my first job as a singing waiter at the Great American Food & Beverage Company – the same place where he first met Gary. You’ll be hearing more from DJ in later episodes of the Tales of the Road Warriors. 

Check out Gary’s music and learn more about his other upcoming projects visit his website at GARYMICHAELMAZZOLA.COM

Posted by Hal, 0 comments

Laura Cheadle

Laura CheadleToday I’m talking to funkadelic singer/songwriter and Jersey Girl, Laura Cheadle, who has been kicking off the new year with sev real performances. As a matter of fact, tomorrow, Friday, January  18th she’ll be appearing at the Union Firehouse in Mount Laurel, NJ. For more information and to get the skinny on all of her upcoming gigs, go to laura cheadle.com and click on DATES in the MENU.

I first “discovered” Laura Cheadle back in the MySpace days  – on Myspace of all places.  She had released a video of a song she had written called The MySpace song which, although wasn’t at the level of Rosetta Thorpe or Bonnie Raitt, you could hear her blues funk influences even then And of course this was a novelty song so yeah, there’s that.

So me, I’m completely into Photoshop at this time. A friend of mine in the animation department at Hannah Barbera had shown me a Christmas Card he created of a guy with his leg impaled by a Christmas Tree. It looked pretty real, so naturally, I was hooked on Photoshop immediately!

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to Photoshop this girl, Laura, onto the body of a performer receiving a Grammy Award. Thank God –  Laura took it in the spirit it was intended because in retrospect, that was kind of a stalky thing to do. I mean, I didn’t really know her and doing that probably has a creep factor of about 8.5.

Anyway, sometime later, she was promoting a show in Ardmore PA at a pace called Milky, a very good listening room for original acts, so I went with a few friends of mine to see her and the band which consists her Dad and her brothers, although now she also includes a couple local blues musicians, Mo and Dave, a very seasoned old school bass and drums rhythm section, that really fills out the sound and anchors the band perfectly.

I’d like to take this opportunity, btw to apologize to Laura for hogging the conversation. The was one of my first podcast recordings and I was a bit nervous. So there were times where I may have been taking when I should have been listening or helping to elicit more conversation from Laura.

(BTW – The group you opened for at Abington, whose name you couldn’t think of was  – Simple Minds)

If we ever get to a part 2, I promise it will go much better. You also should know, her dad, Jim Cheadle has quite a musical history himself, so maybe we’ll get him to participate next time as well.

Right now, this is where I’d like to say, “Today, our conversation with Laura Cheadle is brought you by BLANK, but since this podcast is in its infancy, I don’t have a sponsor yet. Hey potential sponsors, that was a HINT.

So, I guess there’s only one thing left to do. Let’s talk to Laura Cheadle…

More Laura  Cheadle

Laura’s Website


Music from the Show

Intro (most epsiodes): Playa del Spain by Joe Walla
Joe Walla music availble on Broadjam

Outro (most epsodes): I’m Goin’ For a Drive by Hal Cohen
Produced by Barry Keys for Xenon Records
Piano: Barry Keys
Lead Guitar: Aaron Wolfson

Posted by Hal, 0 comments

Introduction to Tales of the Road Warriors

Intro

Tales of the Road Warriors was one of the main sections of Li’l Hank’s Guide for Songwriters. I had requested fellow singer/songwriters and musicians who were kind enough to share their experiences about gigs from hell, embarrassing moments and stuff like that in order to inspire, educate or make you smile.” to contribute there anecdotes and essays.So, just to be sure it was a good idea, I went to the site and reread some of them. Sure enough, these posts are still relevant to this day. So, I knew I was on to something.

One of these tales is called A Tribute To Linda McCartney” by Earl Okin. Earl had toured with Paul and Linda McCartney and Wings. In fact, he was the only person to have ever opened for the band. In it, he gives (to quote Earl) -an “insightful glimpse into the life of an exceptionally inspirational woman few ever came to know”

Then I thought, I wonder if Earl is still with us. So I searched Google and it turns out he is now 70 years old, still performing; still touring; and… he has a podcast, too! So I contacted him through his Facebook page and a few days later, he got back to me. We ended up talking on the phone for about n hour. Wish I had recorded that conversation! That’s okay.  Earl agreed to be one of my first guest on the Tales of the Road Warrior Podcast.

My first guest will be Laura Cheadle, a funkadelic, bluesy singer/songwriter from New Jersey. The episode airs (or aired, depending on when you’re listening) on Thursday, January 17th, 2019.

Some other upcoming guests include

Chad Watson
Dan May
Liz Miller
Earl Okin
Joe Walla
Johny Roquemore

and many. many, more more, so…

Get on the mailing list and we’ll keep you posted!

Intro music: Playa del Spain by Joe Walla
Outro: I’m Goin’ For a Drive by Hal Aaron Cohen

 

Posted by Hal, 0 comments